by Anna Gayle Griffiths
Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series written by students in Dr. Rebecca Glazier’s International Religious Freedom class at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in spring, 2020. The students studied how learning positive things about religious minorities could help break the cycle of social hostilities and government restrictions on religious freedom. Each student contributed a story to this series as their effort to that end.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a branch of Christianity which believes in modern prophets and studies the religious text, The Book of Mormon. One of the most notable beliefs of the Latter-Day Saints is the practice of going on a mission, where young men and women are sent all over the world to spread the word of God. To date, there are approximately 1,000 members of the Church in Central Arkansas, and they are doing wonderful things for our community and around the world.
The Pinnacle Mountain Ward of the Church is involved in several outreach projects. Two formal programs are their Addiction Recovery and Self Reliance classes. The Addiction Recovery program is a 12 step program that helps any and all addicts on the road to recovery. After the 12 step program is over, the Church still remains a part of their lives with continued support and guidance. Following that same motivation, the Church’s Self Reliance classes are aimed at bettering individuals’ everyday lives. These classes are centered around personal finance, furthering one’s education, and tips on how to get a better job. The Pinnacle Mountain Ward also has a more informal outreach program that focuses on welfare programs in the community. These welfare programs help ease the cost of rent, utilities, and other bills for people in need.
Besides the congregation’s outreach programs, Sister Cassandra Howell says that members, “will go out of their way to make people feel welcome and accepted.” On a typical Sunday, you should expect to see multiple generations of families ready to help and welcome you to their community.
As the Church has begun these programs and expanded their outreach, Bishop Sean Whiteley noted that they have begun to fit into the broader Little Rock community, “increasingly well.” Historically, the Church has seen some severe judgements and misconceptions. Members of the Church have been working to end these misconceptions and spread the word of God in Little Rock and beyond. Although I was unable to attend a service firsthand, through phone calls and friendships, I can attest to the kindness and selflessness of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints.
If you are interested in learning more about this congregation, or wanting to join one of their outreach programs, please contact them at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ChurchofJesusChristLittleRock/. They will welcome you with big smiles and open arms!